Barcelona, Spain. October 24th, “Mass and the beach” or “Night-train means tiny bed”


I went to sleep on the 23rd, but sometime on the morning of the 24th around 3am one of my hostel roomies came in with a person who worked for the hostel. Both were speaking loudly about the need or lackthereof for AC in the room and about some sort of smell that needed dealing with. I still have no idea why these problems needed addressing at 3am or with such loudness. I voiced this concern in Spanish at them and thankfully the nonsense subsided, but goodness…that was SUPER obnoxious.


I awoke not feeling well rested thanks to Commodore 3am Emergency, but I ate breakfast, showered, and then sought out a church to sit in. There was one right next to the hostel. I bid farewell to Steve seeing as how it was his last day at the hostel, his 7 week teaching program in Barcelona starts Monday. It was nice to have a friend to hang out with and explore the city with, especially one who was not all about drunken nightclub shenanegins. Steve. Good guy.


I walked into the church near the hostel and realized that mass was starting soon and instead of having my own private experience with God, I really ought to participate in a communal time of worship. So I did that. I enjoyed myself, I can’t say that I understood everything, sometimes the priest would use voices in his homily to represent other people…they were hard to understand. I got to say the apostles creed and the Lord’s prayer. No communion for the Protestant, but it’s honestly not offensive anymore. Strange development.


After mass I sat around and read my bible for awhile, and the priest came to talk to me! He asked about where I was from, who I was, what denomination I was part of, and gave me a blessing! I like getting blessed by priests. It’s just so cool. Maybe you don’t think so, but you should get over that and receive blessings from people. Otherwise it’ll be hard to receive them from God. Right? Of course right. In any case when I told him I was a Presbyterian he responded in Spanish with “Oh! We’re basically cousins! It’s fine, we’ll all be one here in a few years anyhow.” He also said that I “spoke very clearly and I’d be on my way to speaking Castellano very shortly.” He was funny. I like to think I already speak Spanish, and that he and I are actually brothers in the Lord. Not cousins. Read your Vatican II. But in general I liked what he had to say. God willing the church will be one not just in spirit, but in a real “I can sit in a service with Catholics, Baptists, and Mennonites and we can all worship the Living God together.” I think that my being in the mass was one of many small steps towards that.


After mass I went back to the room and rested a bit, then I went to the beach. Yet again, the beach was great. The same British family I met the first time was back with their kids and yet again I was able to have some delightful conversation with them as the sun boldly shone on the Mediterranean Sea. No complaints on my end. I’d eaten lunch beforehand.


After this I went back to the hostel and accomplished several tasks like packing, dinner, showering, etc…Then when 8pm rolled around I took a fancy metro to the train station and after much ado I got into my sleeping compartment on the 10 hour night train to Grenada.


It turns out that A) there’s not much room in the sleeping compartments known as couchettes for people my size and B) the people one rooms with there are pretty awesome. There was a guy from California, a guy from Quebec, and a guy from Germany. We all went to the train restaurant and had a beer as a room. It was this strange bonding moment as I sat there relaying the woes of France’s strikes in Marseille to my temporary roomies as the darkened Spanish countryside rolled by at break-neck speed. We were all going somewhere, probably not terribly likely to hang out much whilst there, but for a moment we all had new friends.


That’s one of the things I’ve really appreciated about going places. One meets the most interesting people and becoming their friend is relatively easy. One can hang out with people from all over the world wherever you go simply based on the fact that the two/four of you speak English together. These small sorts of temporary exploration communities form and for an afternoon or a few days you get to see places through the eyes of someone else as well as your own. I really enjoy it. Especially because it results in a sort of “getting to know you” time that rarely occurs otherwise. For some reason more questions are asked than otherwise, people are taken less for granted, and people who would normally be strangers become friends in a very brief amount of time.


So, anyhow. Eventually I went to bed and slept rather poorly (but I slept. Not like the suckers who had to sit in chairs for 10 hours. That’s the devil.) in a small bed, and in the morning I awoke to the sun rising over Grenada. I’ll blog about today when it’s over.


I was thinking yesterday of Shane Claiborne. My dear friend Robb Watson was talking about him in his blog and I remembered one of the principle beefs I find myself having with regard to Shane. Not a beef with Robb, but with Shane. Shane’s got lots of great things to say, but I note (unlike him) that I think that Jesus didn’t live in a participatory representative democracy where most of the Western now world does. Thus it doesn’t seem to me that any sort of responsible discipleship can occur where one ignores the gift and responsibility included in citizenship. I don’t think that all our hopes are ever to be pinned on the government’s ability to achieve good things, but I do think that sidestepping our limited (and necessary) ability to participate in what it decides is a vast misuse of our blessings. We ought to take seriously our ability to affect change in our world by voting or not voting for things. We ought to lobby our own government to spend less money on guns and more money on education. We ought to elect responsible officials some of whom I daresay might be even be Christians. There are certain posts where having a Christian in such a post is not a win (i.e. Secretary of Denfense), but Christian senators, legislators, and members of the house? Very necessary I would say. People committed to the Gospel in government? Yes.


When we desire changes to problems that have many roots in sin manifest in political systems we need to pray, we need to live incarnationally in community, and we need to vote and participate as citizens. In other words perhaps we need to live our relationship with Jesus in the context of every possible sphere of our lives. Turning a blind eye to politics doesn’t acknowledge that there is a limited amount of redemption of society that the Lord can work through political systems.


If you disagree with me, that’s fine. I take it as a measure of your respect for me. Either way though, give it some thought. How should a Christian live in a world that can be shaped by his/her political participation? If there’s a sandwich that must be made and I can contribute the bread must I throw out the idea of sandwiches altogether?


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